Specialist in School Psychology (SSP) Program

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Apply now for Fall 2024
Application deadline: Jan. 15, 2024
free application | apply at udmercy.edu/apply
Program Director Erin Henze, Ph.D., NCSP, LP
henzeee@udmercy.edu| 313-993-1434

About the School Psychology Specialist Program

The Specialist in School Psychology (SSP) Program at University of Detroit Mercy is designed to prepare school psychologists who have a strong and broad-based knowledge of psychology and education and enable them to apply that knowledge within the school setting. It is a three year, 66-credit-hour program of full time study. This includes a three-semester (i.e., September-June), 600-hour practicum during the second year, and a three-semester, full-time 1,200 hour internship in a school setting completed during the third year.

Students are awarded a Master of Arts with a major in school psychology upon successful completion of 30 hours (end of year 1). The Specialist in School Psychology is awarded upon completion of the entire program. This includes attaining a passing score (≥147) on the Praxis II examination in School Psychology.

Students interested in the LLP (Limited License Psychologist, obtained via the State of Michigan Board of Psychology), or the BCBA (Board Certified Behavior Analyst) will need to have specialized supervision during their internship. Students should seek guidance from faculty if they wish to pursue these additional designations.

Opportunities for Graduate Students Enrolled in the School Psychology Program

Detroit Mercy is working closely with ​area school ​districts in efforts to place graduate students enrolled in our Specialist in School Psychology program's in paid work experiences and practicum opportunities. The Student Mental Health Apprenticeship Retention and Training (SMART) Act, Michigan’s SMART bill/state-funded “Grow Your Own” program, was recently signed into law in order to expand opportunities for students offering mental health services and support. Contact Erin Henze, Ph.D., director of the School Psychology Program, to learn more.

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ABAI Verified Course Sequences

The Association for Behavior Analysis International (ABAI) has verified the following courses toward the coursework requirements for eligibility to take the Board Certified Behavior Analyst® or Board Certified Assistant Behavior Analyst® examinations. Applicants will need to meet additional requirements before they can be deemed eligible to take the examination.

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NASP Accredited

Detroit Mercy's program is fully approved by the National Association of School Psychologists (NASP) through 2029. The nationally recognized standards for training and practice, established by the National Association of School Psychologists (NASP), are articulated in the Standards for Training and Field Program in School Psychology.

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2022 Median Pay

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, School and career counselors and advisors earn $60,140 annually. As stated by the U.S. National Center for Educational Statistics in 2020, school psychologists will be in more demand with increasing public school enrollments, students experiencing poverty and trauma, and the growing prevalence of mental and behavioral health disorders.

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    Program Objectives

    The Program is designed to provide a strong and broad-based knowledge of both psychology and education and to prepare students to apply that knowledge within school settings.  Objectives are as follows:

    1. Graduates recognize the dignity and intrinsic worth of all individuals and demonstrate respect for human diversity and individual differences.

    2. Graduates are able to deliver a full range of school psychological services, including:

    (a.) Assessment of individuals as well as systems,
    (b.) Intervention design, and
    (c.) Provision of both direct and indirect services.

    3. Graduates are advocates for children on both the individual and the group levels.

    4. Graduates communicate clearly and effectively and demonstrate appropriate, respectful conduct in their professional interactions with others.

    5. Graduates adhere to legal and ethical standards in their professional practice.

    In addition, the program follows the 10 domains of knowledge that are requisite to the practice of school psychology as articulated in the Standards of Training and Field Program in School Psychology. The 10 domains are:

    • Data-Based Decision-Making and Accountability
    • Consultation and Collaboration
    • Interventions and Instructional Support to Develop Academic Skills
    • Interventions and Mental Health Services to Develop Social and Life Skills
    • School-Wide Practices to Promote Learning
    • Preventive and Responsive Services
    • Family–School Collaboration Services
    • Diversity in Development and Learning
    • Research and Program Evaluation
    • Legal, Ethical, and Professional Practice


    Admission Requirements

    The Detroit Mercy program accepts full-time-only students. During the Years 1 & 2 field experiences, some daytime hours in the public schools will be required; these hours may not be regular. In addition, some courses are offered during the daytime. Finally, the internship itself is a full-school-year commitment (usually paid by the district).


    Admission occurs at two levels:

    1. At the master’s level, for those who have not yet attained a master’s degree in school psychology; and
    2. At the specialist level, for those who have already been granted a master’s degree in school psychology from another appropriately credentialed program.

    Each prospective student must meet the admission requirements of the College of Liberal Arts & Education, which requires an overall grade point average of 2.7 for the last two years of undergraduate work and 3.0 for graduate work. The program preference is for a minimum GPA of 3.0. An undergraduate degree in psychology is not required, however, any student who does not have undergraduate coursework in child development and statistics will be required to take compensatory coursework prior to enrollment or within the first semester, as directed by the advisor. GRE scores are not required.

    The school psychology program is intended to lead to certification by the state board of education. Candidates who would not qualify for teacher certification (see http://www.legislature.mi.gov/(hzka3q2cfmj4r0vc4mdmp055)/documents/mcl/pdf/mcl-380-1535a.pdf) should not apply; if admitted, those students will be dismissed as the program is informed of disqualifying circumstances.


    Applicants who have already completed graduate programs in related areas may apply; application procedures and requirements are the same as for other candidates. Re-specialization applicants who are accepted into the program may be eligible for a modified program. Transcripts and documentation from previous coursework will be reviewed to determine if some courses may be transferred. Such courses must be comparable and completed with at least a “B.” It is unlikely that a substantial number of courses will meet this criterion. Additionally, it is the position of this program that the practice of school psychology is a specialization requiring intensive school-based field experiences; therefore, it is the policy of this program not to waive field experience requirements.


    Priority deadline for fall of 2024 is Jan. 15, 2024. Late apps may be reviewed if cohort size allows. Applicants are strongly advised to submit materials as soon as possible to ensure their complete file has been forwarded to the department by the application deadline. It is the applicant’s responsibility to ensure that all materials have been received. Incomplete applications will not be considered. In order to be considered for the school psychology program, applicants must submit the following materials:

    1. Transcripts documenting a minimum undergraduate GPA of 2.7 (for admission to Graduate School) and for the School Psychology program, a preferred GPA of 3.0.;
    2. Graduate school application for the Specialist degree in School Psychology;
    3. Three (3) letters of recommendation, at least two of which must address the applicant's academic potential (i.e., from a University faculty member);
    4. Statement of purpose, which should be 2-3 pages, explaining the applicant's interest in school psychology as a career. The statement of purpose should be typed and submitted separately to admissions as a Word document;
    5. Graduate transcripts (if applicable); and
    6. Professional resume

    All application materials can be uploaded to the application portal once you apply online at: udmercy.edu/apply.

    For questions regarding the application process, please contact:

    Graduate Admissions


    When an applicant’s file is complete, it is forwarded to the Program Screening Committee for consideration. Those who do not meet minimum College requirements are eliminated from the pool of candidates. To maintain program quality and be consistent with NASP standards, space is limited and admission is competitive. Applicants are considered based on 7 qualities associated with successful candidates:

    • Child advocacy
    • Understanding of/commitment to the profession of school psychology
    • Written communication skills
    • Oral communication skills
    • Academic ability/test-taking skills
    • Professional behavior skills
    • Relevant background experiences

    The Screening Committee will select those applicants most likely to be successful in the program; those applicants will be invited for an on-campus interview in late winter or early spring. The purpose of this interview is to determine the applicant’s match with the training program and profession, and potential for successful completion of the program. A student entering with some applicable graduate work but without an appropriate master’s degree may be given a maximum of nine credit hours of advanced standing toward the specialist degree. Recommendation for certification from the State Department of Education to work as a school psychologist is contingent upon completing the specialist degree.


    Financial Aid

    Qualified candidates for this program may be eligible for as much as 60 percent off of the published tuition price. Students should also contact the University's Financial Aid Office for additional information regarding other sources of financial assistance 313-993-3350.


    Accreditation Status

    University of Detroit Mercy's Specialist in School Psychology program is fully accredited through 2029 from the National Association of School Psychologists (NASP). This program follows the NASP 10 Domains Practice Model.

    Since 1988, NASP has been pleased to provide a national review and approval service for graduate programs in school psychology. NASP program approval/national recognition is an important indicator of quality graduate education in school psychology, comprehensive content, and extensive and properly supervised field experiences and internships, as judged by trained national reviewers. In addition, programs obtaining NASP approval allows for a streamlined process for program graduates to obtain the Nationally Certified School Psychologist (NCSP) credential. Thus, NASP approval/national recognition confers multiple advantages to programs, program graduates, the profession of school psychology, and, most importantly, to the children, families, and schools that we serve.

    Specialist level (60+ graduate credits) and doctoral level programs in school psychology are reviewed and approved by NASP by providing evidence of consistency with the NASP Standards for Graduate Preparation of School Psychologists. The NASP standards provide the foundation for program review and approval. NASP is one of the specialized professional associations (SPAs) of the Council for Accreditation of Educator Preparation (CAEP), previously the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE), and conducts program reviews as a part of the CAEP unit accreditation process. CAEP accredits units (e.g., Schools of Education), not programs, but does provide "national recognition" status (full or with conditions) to NASP-approved programs in CAEP-accredited units. NASP also conducts reviews of school psychology programs that are not in CAEP units and that submit materials for review by NASP on a voluntary basis.

Our Alumni and Students Have Great Things to Say

Laure E. Weakman, SSP, NCSP
School Psychologist
Gratiot-Isabella RESD

When I reflect on my time at Detroit Mercy in the School Psychology Specialist Program, I am thankful to have had professors who were invested in providing a supportive learning environment and inspiring us to be well-informed advocates for students and educators.  Due to the small class sizes, you are able to build vital relationships with your professors and your cohort members.  As a result, I now have a collaborative network of professional individuals in my field to support me throughout my career.  While in the School Psychology Program, I was able to develop my professional skills in assessment, consultation, intervention, counseling, and advocacy.  The professors and program instilled a deep understanding of the legal and ethical standards for School Psychologists which is an essential component of being a successful collaborator and advocate in the realm of education.  This program will give you the specialized skills required to be a School Psychologist, as well as, the skills needed to have a positive impact in schools and in the community.

Lauren Roberts
Current Student
President, School Psychology Graduate Student Association

Throughout my college career, I have come to realize two of my strongest passions - education and psychology. The School Psychology Graduate Program at Detroit Mercy is the greatest balance of these two. We are taught to make students' educational experiences the best they can be. Each professor in our program truly lets their love and passion for this subject shine through their work. They work as hard as they can to make sure we will be successful school psychologists. After only being in the program for a full year, I am already confident in my consultative, intervention, and assessment skills. I love going to my practicum site and being able to apply what I’m learning in class. I can’t wait to officially begin my career and show off all of the opportunities that the Detroit Mercy School Psychology Program has given me.

Jacob Jones, SSP, NCSP
School Psychologist/Counselor
De La Salle Collegiate High School

The School Psychology Program at the University of Detroit Mercy provided me with the opportunity to work and serve my community in a way for which I am immensely grateful. I enjoy what I do, and feel strongly that I make a difference. Perhaps more importantly to some, I have never felt pressure in looking for a job. There are plentiful opportunities in the field, and the Detroit Mercy School Psychology program helped prepare me for the varied types of experiences that I encounter on a day to day basis.

Adam Rainey

For students looking into School Psychology programs, the graduate program at Detroit Mercy thoroughly prepares their students for the changing field. The faculty are excellent and will make you feel welcome in the program. Everyone is very knowledgeable about the field and will leave you feeling confident and prepared for graduation. During classes, you feel comfortable asking questions and the faculty encourage research into your areas of interest. In addition to the program, there are outside opportunities to assist professors in their research, work as a teacher assistant, and become a part of the School Psychology Graduate Student Association on campus. The structure of the program sets the students up for success. Being a School Psychology Graduate student at Detroit Mercy has been an amazing experience and I encourage anyone who is pursuing a career as a School Psychologist to apply to the program.

Heather Bishop, SSP
Ph.D. Student

When I look back on my experience as a graduate student in the University of Detroit Mercy School Psychology Program, I am thankful for having the opportunity to be part of a wonderful community with supportive professors and inspiring peers. Detroit Mercy provided me with a strong understanding of assessment, intervention, counseling, and consultation. I can say with confidence that Detroit Mercy equipped me with the knowledge to succeed as a School Psychologist in Detroit Public Schools. I believe that the assets of the close-knit Detroit Mercy School Psychology program will continue to influence me throughout my career.

Meet Our Core Faculty

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Erin Henze
Associate Professor of Psychology
Director of the Specialist in School Psychology Program

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Rachel Lee
Assistant Professor of Psychology

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Sarah Rowe
Assistant Professor of Psychology

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Linda Slowik
Professor of Psychology
* Department Chair, Psychology

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